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Mental Health and the Georgian World: The ‘Madness’ of George III

Bush House, Strand Campus , London

5 Nov
Madness of George
Image: Nottingham Playhouse and Manuel Harlan

A panel discussion focusing on the ‘madness’ of George III as revealed in the Georgian papers how it can help us think about mental health in our own time.

About this event

This panel discussion focuses on a theme which has great contemporary relevance as we begin to discuss mental health issues with a new openness. In its own way, George III’s ‘madness’ opened up discussion in its day as the king became the most famous mental patient of the age of the enlightenment; and his case remains familiar to many through the film and productions of Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III.

How can we put George III’s illness at the service of new understandings of the history of mental illness and its treatment, and emerging contemporary efforts to address mental illness as we do physical and with greater understanding? How should we understand George’s illness and Georgian approaches to mental health more generally? How do we represent them today?

To discuss these issues we have assembled a remarkable panel bringing together perspectives from the archives, from the modern medical profession, from historians working on related issues, and from the leading actor and director who most recently took on the challenge of embodying – or should that be ‘enminding’? – George’s illness, in the acclaimed Nottingham Playhouse production of Bennett’s play seen across the world via NTLive.

Panel members

Sir Simon Wessely Professor of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London and President of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Mark Gatiss actor and writer, who portrayed George III in The Madness of George III at Nottingham Playhouse in 2018

Adam Penford artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse, and the director of the Nottingham Playhouse’s award-winning production of The Madness of George III. Adam previously worked with the National Theatre and is associated with many other important productions.

Barbara Taylor Professor of Humanities at Queen Mary University of London and author of The Last Asylum (2014)

Michael Brown Reader in History, Roehampton University, and author of Performing Medicine (2011)

Arthur Burns academic director, Georgian Papers Programme, and professor of Modern British History at King’s College London

Karin Wulf academic director, Georgian Papers Programme and executive director of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture and professor of history at William & Mary, USA

The discussion will be followed by a reception to which all are welcome.


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